This is page numbers of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was work.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Diane Archie, Hon. Frederick Blake Jr., Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Hon. Julie Green, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, MR. ROCKY SIMPSON:, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek. Ms. Weyallon-Amstrong

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Environment and Natural Resources.

Ministers' Statements

Minister's Statement 194-19(2):
Continuing Climate Leadership

Prayer
Prayer

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, climate change is one of the most critical issues we face today. I am pleased to report on actions the GNWT is taking to address its impacts here in the NWT.

As a territory, we are responsible for less than 0.2 percent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions but we are experiencing climate warming at a rate that is three times the global average. We have already seen significant changes that are impacting our environment, our economy, our infrastructure, and our way of life. We are seeing changing ice conditions, coastal erosion, rising sea levels, and melting permafrost.

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to taking action to address these destructive impacts.
Later today, we will table multiple annual reports highlighting work that has been done with our partners to mitigate and adapt to climate change across the NWT.

I would like to highlight a few of these actions today.

In January, we became the first jurisdiction in Canada to include consideration of a climate change factor in Cabinet and Financial Management Board decision-making. Assessing the potential impacts of government decisions on climate change ensures that meaningful and consistent climate change action is taken away departments and improving our accountability on climate action.

We have also worked with our partners to establish a Climate Change Council that includes members from Indigenous governments and community leaders. The council will include advisory groups such as youth, Elders, community governments, industry, non-government organizations, co-management boards, and academia who will inform priorities of the climate change action plan. In addition, the council will also include various advisory panels such as the water stewardship panel, the cumulative impact monitoring program panel, and the sustainable livelihood panel that will provide advice and recommendation. The council and advisory groups are important forums to bring together community perspectives and expert guidance as we face a challenging climate.

Madam Speaker, climate action takes investment in people and programming. Over the last year, our government has made significant investments when it comes to addressing climate change. We have invested nearly $56 million, and have created 15 new positions across government to work on climate change actions.

In 2021, the Department of Infrastructure invested over $38 million as part of the 2030 Energy Strategy, and for energy and greenhouse gas reduction projects and programs, which resulted in 3.6 kilo tonnes of greenhouse gas emission reductions. This $38 million included significant investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, such as providing over $5.3 million to the Arctic Energy Alliance, resulting in nearly $2 million in incentives being given out. These incentives help residents, businesses, and communities to be more energy efficient.

Our government has also invested roughly $3.8 million dollars in energy retrofits to government assets which has contributed to our own emission reduction over the last year.

Madam Speaker, the Department of Finance continued its efforts on carbon pricing over the last year. The price per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions rose to $30, and we provide rebates for residents to reduce the burden caused by high costs associated with residential heating.

Madam Speaker, I would also like to highlight that earlier this month the GNWT participated in the 26th Council of the Parties in Glasgow, Scotland as part of the Canadian delegation. It is unfortunate that due to the pandemic, Indigenous participation was not fully represented this year as previous conferences. I am hopeful that Indigenous participation will return to pre-COVID levels at future conferences and commitment to working with Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations through the Climate Change Council to support Indigenous participation in the future.

COP26 was an opportunity for the GNWT to engage directly with the Government of Canada to advocate for NWT climate change interests and to highlight the unique challenges and opportunities that exist in the NWT. We shared ideas, learned from others, and brought back knowledge to inform our efforts on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Our government will continue to lead in the fight against climate change. We will keep working closely with Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations, the federal government, community leaders, academia, industry, and non-government organizations, who are our allies in taking action on climate change.

The GNWT has accomplished a lot over the past year in addressing climate change but there is still work to be done. We must all work together to find solutions to address climate change in the Northwest Territories and continue this important work. I know that we all rise to the challenge. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Minister's Statement 195-19(2): 2030 Energy Strategy Update
Prayer

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.


MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Minister. Ministers' Statements. Minister for our Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Minister's Statement 195-19(2): 2030 Energy Strategy Update
Prayer

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, strengthening our leadership and authority on climate change and enhancing efforts to stabilize the cost of power is a priority of the Government of the Northwest Territories; so is increasing the use of alternative and renewable energy.

Today, as part of our government's integrated approach to climate change reporting, we will release four reports, including the 2020-2021 Energy Initiatives Report. This report outlines almost $38 million in energy-related investments the GNWT made during the past fiscal year. These investments not only reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and help us take real action against climate change, they also provide our communities with reliable energy and stabilize costs for residents. This supports the goals of the Northwest Territories' 2030 Energy Strategy and 2030 Climate Change Strategic Framework.

Mr. Speaker, projects that are positively impacting residents and communities include those from the Greenhouse Gas Grant Program. One of the three projects approved this year by the GNWT was $1.1 million for the installation of two wood pellet boilers in two Yellowknife schools, in Mildred Hall and Range Lake North. Once these boilers are installed and operating, they are expected to reduce 578 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
This last year, the GNWT provided over $5.3 million to the Arctic Energy Alliance, resulting in nearly $2 million in incentives being given out. These funds support the energy efficiency, conservation, and alternative energy programs and services. Residents, businesses and communities all benefit. This year, the organization provided 1000 more rebates than in 2019-2020, despite dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to advance key projects that will help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation in diesel communities by 25 percent; one of the strategic objectives of the 2030 Energy Strategy.

This summer the GNWT and the federal government announced $60 million in funding to build the Fort Providence-Kakisa Transmission Line. This project will virtually eliminate diesel fuel consumption for power generation in these communities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3000 tonnes per year.

Mr. Speaker, the Inuvik Wind Project is another important initiative under the 2030 Energy Strategy. This 3.5-megawatt wind turbine will reduce diesel consumption in our largest off-grid community by up to 30 percent. The permitting phase for the project has been completed and it moved into final design. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in the winter of 2022.

When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the GNWT is leading by example through the Capital Asset Retrofit Fund. This program delivers energy efficiency projects for GNWT facilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Projects completed in the last fiscal year decreased government emissions by two kilo tonnes.

The GNWT continues to advance the Taltson Hydroelectricity Expansion Project. Technical work on transmission routing options is also ongoing. We expect a preliminary business case for the project later this fiscal year.

Mr. Speaker, while we have accomplished a great deal during the first three years of implementation of the 2030 Energy Strategy, we must keep moving forward. It is time to take stock of the lessons we have learned in implementing this strategy. We must combine these learnings with new research and analyze to inform a renewed strategy and accompanying the energy action plan.

As the GNWT conducts this review and carries on with implementation, we will continue to engage directly with communities and Indigenous governments and organizations to ensure their participation, partnership, and empowerment when proposing and implementing energy solutions. The GNWT cannot meet its energy and climate change objectives by acting alone. We need all Northerners to play a role. By continuing to work together, we can make it happen. Quyananni, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 195-19(2): 2030 Energy Strategy Update
Prayer

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.

Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunity In The Legislative Assembly
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunity In The Legislative Assembly

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as Caucus chair, I must address a very important issue which is affecting everybody in this building, the Legislative Assembly, as well as all people across the NWT. The issue I am referring to is to the need to maintain proper confidentiality of certain sensitive matters that are before the Assembly and the need for more unity, cohesion, trust and professionalism as MLAs.

This Assembly has been plagued by constant and ongoing leaks of various confidential and sensitive information. These leaks have had damaging effects on proper function of our government. They also affected people's lives, careers, and families.

I have always been a proponent of accountable and transparent governance; however, in my work it is also extremely important to balance that with confidentiality of sensitive information. Both as an MLA but especially as Caucus chair, I expect a certain level of respect for the office we hold and for the common good of the people of the NWT.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, if this Assembly continues to engage in sideshow activities on concluded matters, where neutral decisions have already been made by independent third parties, then the work of the Assembly will suffer. We've dealt with all these sideshows already in the Assembly's workplace review and in the inquiry and work of the sole adjudicator. It is distracting and obstructing the work of the Legislative Assembly.

Therefore, for the sake of the people of the NWT, the sideshow has got to stop.

In addition, I think some of the content quoted within the December 6th, 2021 News North front page is unprofessional, out of context, and must stop. I, for one, am not controlled by no one, and I am tired of our Assembly being portrayed as dysfunctional by the media and by the people of the NWT. For the dignity of this House, we must restore order to this Assembly to this sideshow behaviour. A sideshow is not what we signed up for but that is what the business of the Assembly risks coming to. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Our Assembly has lost its focus and has devoted considerable public funds and government resources in responding to and dealing with these various sideshow activities. It is time-consuming and inefficient for staff to continue to respond to these activities. What does it accomplish? Nothing.

Everything is at stake from the staff morale of the Assembly to the very confidence of the people of the NWT. We were put here to make the NWT a better place but are we really accomplishing that right now?

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, December for many people is supposed to be a joyful time during a special holiday season marked on our calendars. We shouldn't need to deal with this type of stuff. For those who want to continue these sideshow activities, just stop. For those who won't stop, our leadership must take action. We must turn the page on these matters and move on.

This Assembly has plenty of work to address. We can't be putting ourselves first before the people of the NWT. That is not good leadership. It is not what we were elected here to do. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunity In The Legislative Assembly
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunity In The Legislative Assembly

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Member's statement on Government of the Northwest Territories and Chamber of Mines COVID‐19 Recovery Working Group
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunity In The Legislative Assembly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. In June 2021 I tabled redacted summaries of the secret meetings of the GNWT-Chamber of Mines COVID Recovery Working Group. I tabled another set of summaries earlier this sitting as well and they contained about 80 additional disclosures from the Department as a result of a new review conducted under our more permissive amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

As I said before, what was supposed to be a working group focused on economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID pandemic has transitioned into a high-level lobbying campaign. This is not about whether mining is good or criticism of the Chamber of Mines; this is about the appropriateness of these meetings held behind closed doors.

In June, I outlined several options for the Minister to bring some transparency and accountability to these secret meetings which does not appear to have been adopted in any way, so I will repeat them again here.

Now that this information about these meetings has been made public, the Minister has several options, as I see it.

  • The Minister could stop these meetings now that the pandemic is almost over;.
  • Confine these meetings to their original and stated purpose of economic recovery rather than the current lobbying campaign that appears to have no limits;
  • Allow other interested parties to observe and/or participate;
  • Make complete summaries of these meetings public;
  • Allow other economic sectors and non-governmental organizations the same opportunity for consultation and lobbying; and/or,
  • Bring in lobbyist legislation so there is proper disclosure guidance for lobbying.

I will have questions later today for the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment on the GNWT-Chamber of Mines COVID Recovery Working Group. Merci, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Member's statement on Government of the Northwest Territories and Chamber of Mines COVID‐19 Recovery Working Group
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunity In The Legislative Assembly

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

member's statement on Abstinence from Alcohol and Drugs
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunity In The Legislative Assembly

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, given the upcoming festive season, I wanted to share a message regarding abstinence from alcohol and drugs. I wanted to relay a message about options should you continue and options to do other activities rather than turn to alcohol and drugs for enjoyment.

Mr. Speaker, when one chooses to party it up, whether they are single or in a relationship, and especially if they have children, there are significant effects to that decision. What we see from our communities and monthly RCMP crime reports is the escalating domestic violence and sexual assaults that plague our small communities.

Since COVID hit, there has been a significant increase in the use of alcohol and drugs, especially with all the free money floating around. Many families are running into problems with living expenses as they choose to buy significant amounts of alcohol and drugs; everything else is secondary to the fun they can have. The families of these people suffer because of their decisions and they bear the brunt of the stress waiting to see if they will come home safely and for many it is the children that are affected in this way.

We see far too often how happy the children are when their parents are home and taking care of them. This is what should be thought of before making decisions to purchase alcohol and drugs. What they also don't realize is the amount of stress that is placed on our ever-decreasing health care and staffing levels. Most get serious injuries from falls or beatings and most times can't get the immediate attention they require due to staffing levels.

Mr. Speaker, there are more positives than negatives when one abstains from alcohol and drugs. There is the all-important family relationship with immediate family and beyond, including the whole community. Healthy clear minds see improved mental health for all, increases willpower and self-esteem. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent.

---Unanimous consent granted

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker, and mahsi, colleagues. This will also improve education outcomes as our Elders envisioned for us and have stated. We want good education for our children and future generations to become doctors, lawyers, and teachers and so forth. Abstinence from alcohol and drugs creates a positive community atmosphere as this will hopefully improve volunteerism and that helps to improve life in the communities.

I encourage all residents of the Northwest Territories to start doing and making things happen for your family, your friends, your community and, most of all, for yourself. There are always supports within your community to begin this journey. Please take advantage of all services available to improve your lives. Mahsi.

---Applause

member's statement on Abstinence from Alcohol and Drugs
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunity In The Legislative Assembly

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. Members' statements. Member for Great Slave.

member's statement on Home Base Yellowknife
Members' Statementsmember's Statement Onunity In The Legislative Assembly

December 7th, 2021

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

As a regular Member, I'm active on our social development committee which has identified children and family services as an area of focus. From this work, I have been learning so much about the issues facing families and youth in the NWT. One area that I am becoming more familiar with is the foster care system, and I want thank everyone who has taken the time to speak with me about this topic as it's a sensitive one.

Mr. Speaker, when I look at our social problems, I can see the gap that youth and young adults are falling into. Aging-out or kicked out of foster care, they often find themselves with little to no options, with too many going on to become chronic dependents of social welfare as adults. One way we can remove adults from our system is to prevent them from being dependent on it in the first place. And in the Northwest Territories, only one organization is supporting youth to get them out of the system, and that is Home Base Yellowknife.

Home Base is a youth support organization that offers four programs for youth to help them become self-sufficient and deal with trauma from their childhoods. Home Base has ten full-time dorm spaces in their main building on 52nd Street, also operating a shelter there from 8 to 8 daily. The shelter provides a safe space for youth to sleep, have a meal, and wash their clothes.

Home Base operates a second youth centre next to Overlander Sports, open from 12 to 8 every day, providing a second place for youth to shower, do laundry, eat, and work on resumes and life planning.

Home Base also has a housing program that assists 20- to 24-year-olds with housing through commercial leases or at their newly acquired Park Place apartment building near City Hall. Youth can attend any of Home Base's programs to receive support, advice, and guidance on careers and life management skills. The goal of Home Base is to stabilize youth in order to reintegrate them into society and get them back into school.

Although Home Base wants to increase youth shelter supports to 24 hours a days 7 days a week, their current financial projection means a cut to shelter hours is coming rather than an expansion. In order to even maintain the current level of programming, Home Base needs additional emergency homelessness assistance funding to do so.

While Home Base receives programming money, they do not have core funding available for wages or to buy essential supplies. With core funding for staff and supplies, Home Base could offer 24-hour supports to youth in an effort to divert this vulnerable population from a lifetime of dependence on social programming. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause